Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Boomerang Looper

After I watched Heth and Jed in New York, and playing a lot of guitar in Yoyogi Park now that the weather had turned from freezing to heatwave, I've been inspired to push myself a little bit more to get out there.

I've given up on waiting for someone to jam with, instead figuring out a way just to do it all myself. Watching the guys on Staten Island gave me the idea of using a looper to add my own accompaniment on the fly. I thought of pre-recording some tracks onto my iPod, but I like the idea of a one man band doing it "on the spot".

So my search for a looper was on. I watched Heth explaining his setup on Youtube, and noticed he had a Boss RC-20XL loop station on his pedal board.

I looked it up and a LOT of other loopers.

It's advantage is it's battery powered, but I wanted more than a single overdubbed loop. Although, check out KC Tunstall and her E2 Headrush performance here and a Jackson 5 cover here. Great stuff.

The Boss RC-50 looked like just what I was after but it looked pretty big, and required to be plugged into a power supply. The reviews weren't that great, but there is a fantastic demo of it here that almost convinced me to get it.

Another option was to just buy a midi pedal board, and use the great (and free!) Mac program "Sooperlooper". It's quite easy to use and a lot of fun! The only negative here is that I'd be carting along a laptop where I play. Not the most ideal busking situation, but it was one I've been close to going for.

For something different I played around with Everyday Looper on the iPhone. This was a lot of fun too, but using it live with a guitar might be a little tricky trying to keep my hands free to play, rather than touching the screen. Highly recommended though!

Finally I wanted something small, but ticked all the boxes of what I was after. There are many favourable reviews of the Boomerang III phrase sampler.

I watched this video that shows just what this baby is capable of. You can have up to 4 loops with one of them being a master percussive loop that can continue behind all the other loops. That's what I had in mind so this should be perfect! Well, almost perfect. One "problem' is that it can't be powered by batteries.

Mike suggested a Duracell Powerpack but unfortunately here in Japan they can't be found. The closest I'm thinking of is an Eneloop Pedal Juice. Here they call it "Music Booster". It's a 9V Lithium-ion battery pack. According to the manual it says it can run off DC power, but I'm still waiting for Boomerang Music to get back to me about that. It might only give me 2 hours power but the Eneloops are much cheaper here in Japan that I could probably get two.

The Boomerang's made in the US and is probably considered a boutique pedal that it's hard to come by it here, but out of the blue like someone read my mind I saw one in a local music shop for sale and I jumped on it!

I made the trip out to Ikebukuro today to buy it. My first impression is that it looks bigger than it does in photos. For some reason I expected it to be about the same size as my Adrenalinn. In hindsight that would be totally impractical. This size leaves enough space to comfortably hit the footswitches.

They had trouble getting an input level, but it looks like the cord inputs are auto-sensing, so I suggest powering it down and on again, and it worked. It was mostly intuitive, but for all it can do I really needed a bit of owner manual help to know how the buttons functioned.

But you know I'm excited. Finally I might be able to realize those sounds in my head of my songs, and covers, that I don't need anyone else to help me do.

Busking may be my answer after all. Back to the boys for some more inspiration. Check this out too!


Adam Smith Lieberfarb said...

Wow, that looks really cool. Last week I got a BOSS RC-3 from soundhouse. It sounds a lot better than the Boss DD-7's HOLD mode, and is MUCH easier to use than my old Lexicon Jamman (and more compact.) The drums actually sound cool, too!

Jimmy In Japan said...

It's an awesome box.The Boss loop stations seem to be limited to a single (and overdubbed) loop except the RC50, but this one you can set one loop as a master rhythmic loop that can run all the time, with 2 or 3 independent loops that can be verse,chorus sections all stackable! Very, very cool.

I tried a DD-7. I expected better. The Echo Park sounds much better to me, and more versatile too.